Seasonal Allergies vs. Cold

Allergies and a cold share many symptoms – runny nose, cough, congestion. What are the main differences to help tell them apart? The physicians at AFC Urgent Care Waltham can help diagnose any upper or lower respiratory illness you may have. From there, treatment will be provided to help you feel your best.

Allergy Symptoms

Allergies happen when your immune system has a reaction to an unknown substance, such as pollen. Your body then tries to fight off the pollen by releasing histamines, which cause allergy symptoms. Some common allergy symptoms include:

  • Sneezing/runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Watery eyes

Pollen from trees, grass, or weeds is the biggest cause of seasonal allergies. Some people can also be allergic to mold, pet dander, or dust.

Cold Symptoms

The common cold is caused by many different types of viruses. Due to the many different types of viruses, patients can experience different symptoms. A cold can have all the same symptoms listed above. Headaches, fevers, or body aches can also happen with a cold. Typically, cold symptoms last around seven days, and if they last longer, it is likely a patient has contracted a sinus infection or bronchitis.

Major Differences

It’s important to pay attention to specific symptoms to help tell the difference between a cold or allergies. For example, if you are experiencing fatigue, sore throat, fever, or body aches, it is most likely a cold. If you are experiencing itchy eyes, wheezing, or a rash, it is more likely to be allergies. Also, while you get catch a cold at any point during the year, you are more likely to get one in the winter months. Allergies are more likely to happen in the spring and fall months.

Lastly, a cold is more likely to get better within seven to ten days. Allergies can last for weeks at a time, especially if you spend more time outdoors.

Treatment Options

A cold can be treated with cough syrups, cold medications, decongestants, and Advil or Tylenol. While they will heal themselves after some time, these medications can help relieve any symptoms. Additionally, rest and plenty of fluids will help speed up the process. Be sure to speak with a doctor before giving any of those medications to children.

The best way to avoid an allergy attack is by avoiding the triggers. Using antihistamines such as Benadryl or Claritin can help combat symptoms and help you sleep at night. Use Claritin or Zyrtec 30 minutes before going outside to be completely covered. Eye drops can also help with watery or itchy eyes. Immunotherapy is also an option for those with severe allergic reactions. AFC Urgent Care Waltham provides seasonal allergy treatment for all patients.